Sam Altman will rejoin OpenAI as its chief executive, the high-profile AI startup announced on Wednesday, capping a dramatic reversal that concludes five days of arduous deliberations, debates, and persuasion that followed Altman’s unexpected dismissal from the company he co-founded last week.
The most valuable startup in the United States, OpenAI, announced that an “agreement in principle” has been reached regarding Altman’s return. Additionally, the startup is reforming its board by removing a number of members whose decisions were subject to intense scrutiny the previous week.
The AI startup’s new board will include former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, former Salesforce co-chief executive Bret Taylor, and Quora founder Adam D’Angelo. Taylor will preside over the board, according to the startup.
After last week’s announcement by OpenAI, which Microsoft owns approximately 49% of and has invested over $11 billion in, the company moved quickly to appoint Altman as the head of a new AI division at the software giant. In opposition to the earlier OpenAI board’s decision, Greg Brockman, the former president of OpenAI, and countless other members of the startup tendered their resignations. Brockman, who previously worked for Microsoft, announced his intention to rejoin the startup as well.
Altman stated on Wednesday, in response to OpenAI’s action, “I adore OpenAI, and my entire day and night have been devoted to ensuring that this team and its mission remain united. It was immediately apparent that my decision to join Microsoft on Sunday evening was in the best interest of the team and myself. “With the assistance of Satya and the new board, I eagerly anticipate my return to OpenAI and the opportunity to strengthen our partnership with Microsoft.”
The new members of the OpenAI board encouraged Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, on Wednesday. Nadella had previously expressed displeasure with the OpenAI board’s decision last week and vowed to ensure that Microsoft is never “surprised” again.
“We consider this to be an initial, crucial stride towards a trajectory toward governance that is more stable, informed, and efficient.” Together with the OAI leadership team, Sam, Greg, and I have reached the consensus that they each play a crucial role in ensuring the organization’s continued success and expansion of its mission. We eagerly anticipate strengthening our existing partnership and providing our customers and partners with the benefits of this next generation of AI.”
Earlier this week, Nadella stated in television interviews that he had previously informed the OpenAI board of directors that Microsoft would collaborate with Brockman and Altman “either way.” Additionally, he did not preclude Altman and Brockman from rejoining OpenAI and stated that Microsoft will maintain its commitment to the startup, which has garnered worldwide attention in a manner unparalleled by few technologies since its ChatGPT platform.
Not only is OpenAI widely regarded as the frontrunner in the current artificial intelligence race, but it has also become the kingmaker for thousands of other startups that are building on its software offerings in less than a year. Additionally, investments in OpenAI have accelerated Microsoft’s AI efforts, which have assisted the company in attracting numerous clients and bolstered Wall Street’s optimism regarding its future.
The previous board of OpenAI, consisting of Helen Toner of the Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology, Ilya Sutskever, its chief scientist, D’Angelo, an independent director, and technology entrepreneur Tasha McCauley, was subjected to intense public scrutiny due to their sudden decision. The board never provided a comprehensive explanation for their action. On Tuesday, Reuters reported that several OpenAI investors, disgusted with the previous board, began considering the possibility of suing the board members.
OpenAI’s backer and founder of Thrive Capital, Joshua Kushner, stated on Wednesday that the company “has the potential to be one of the most consequential companies in the history of computing.” Kushner had advocated for Altman’s return. Altman and Brockman “have an unparalleled capacity to motivate and guide, in addition to a deep-seated dedication to the organization’s ethical standards.” We are immensely thrilled that they are returning to the organization that they co-founded and significantly contributed to its development.
“Recent days have witnessed an extraordinary display of resiliency and strength on the part of the entire OpenAI team; it is with great gratitude that we remain their future and present partners.” It is our conviction that this represents the most favorable result for the organization, its workforce, individuals who develop their technologies, and the global community as a whole.”
Former Twitch CEO and interim leader of OpenAI, Emmett Shear, who was appointed to the position on Sunday, expressed his approval of the organization’s new decision. “Before joining OpenAI, I was uncertain of the best course of action. This was the course of action that optimized safety while also upholding the rights of all parties involved. “I am delighted to have contributed to the resolution,” he wrote on X.